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  • Writer's pictureRick Kenney

On The Mark: From Stills to Swift, January's Hits, Disc 1

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

Is it cliche to say ‘wow, that was a fast January?’ Yup, it was fast and it was glorious. January is a great time for benchmark releases, and this year didn’t disappoint. This first edition of January’s greatest hits gives the macro view of what’s really happening across digital, from ecommerce traffic, to acquisition costs, over to customer service. Plus, there’s a bonus benchmark on what shoppers saw more of across the peak shopping season. Here’s part 1 of January’s On the Mark.

Digital traffic growth vanished in H2 of 2021

We all know that the pandemic drove a wave of traffic. But, the COVID booster started to wear off in 2021, as digital needed to anniversary those massive gains. Yes, some will caveat that declines were inevitable and there is no magic growth tree, but managers, executives, boards and stockholders are ambitious folk, and looking for more over more. Especially noteworthy, though, is that traffic declined even in Q4, which includes the peal shopping season.

Peering into 2022, with traffic appearing to be hard fought, the new mandate will be to deliver conversions by making the most of the traffic you have.

Fatal Attraction

As the organic traffic waves receded, and no new wave on the horizon, retailers are digging into their acquisition budgets for the next tranche of shoppers. But, demand appears to be outstripping supply at precisely the wrong time for retailers, and the trusted sources of customer acquisition – Google and Facebook – have the upper hand. CPCs and CPMs increased substantially in Q4 2021. Retail CPCs increased 19% on Google Ads while CPMs increased by 19% on Instagram, 66% on Facebook, and 69% on Pinterest. Brands that optimize to ROAS or CAC will see their returns diminish as these costs continue to rise. Higher CAC, ack! The economic pressure to simply meet a shopper is skyrocketing.

The combination of these two macro forces; declining traffic (per Salesforce) and increasing acquisition costs (per Tinuiti), is a double whammy for brands. Time to turn to Stephen Stills, and love the (shoppers) you’re with. Making the most of your traffic means 2022 is the year of optimization. Check out the latest in optimization benchmarks here.

Press 1 for Top Notch Customer Service

Since we hear so much about the bad customer service experiences, it’s refreshing to look on the bright side. Zendesk’s CX trends provide a clear view into what’s working. Brands that get customer service right are rewarded with more loyal customers and higher sales. 81% of customers say a positive customer service experience increases the likelihood, they’ll make another purchase. 74% say they will forgive a company for its mistake after receiving excellent service.

But, sometimes service with a smile fades to a frown. The Taylor Swift rule applies for those brands that get it wrong, as the customers say they are never, ever, ever, getting back together, even after just one bad experience.

Sorry, Out of Stock

Tired of hearing about supply chain issues? Have you tried ordering furniture?). One of the most egregious unintentional issues a retailer can have is out-of-stocks. And, shoppers saw more of them than ever in Q4 2021. Online out-of-stock messages increased 256% during the 2021 holiday season compared with 2019. This represents 6 billion out-of-stock messages for online products during the 2021 holiday season. 6 BILLION. Yikes. This serves as a great reminder for one of the best moments of engagement of all – back in stock notifications.

Stay tuned for the 2nd half of this past month’s greatest hits, with insights across email marketing, checkout, and more. Need more insights, now? 2021's greatest hits are here.

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